More than 8,000 miles away, in India, a groundbreaking is taking place thanks to someone who lives here in Huntington Beach.
Father Angelos Sebastian, who was born in Kerala, India, in 1975, left his home at age 14 to join the minor seminary in the mission Diocese of Ajmer and was ordained in 2001.
Until recently, Sebastian had been with St. Bonaventure in Huntington Beach. Today, he has moved over to Blessed Sacrament Church in Westminster. But ask anyone here who ever saw him preach, and you'll discover quickly the impact he has made on this community.
I wrote in this column about Sebastian two years ago, when he had just begun spearheading the idea of building an orphanage in India, where UNICEF has reported that more than 25 million children live on the streets.
As he shared then, "I grew up seeing children on the streets begging for food. People would chase them away, mistreat them, abuse them. It always caused a pain my heart to see so many children with no parents to love them and no food, education or future. They spend all day and night on the street, subject to every form of abuse you can imagine."
In January 2012, he took a group to visit a site in India that he thought might be just right for the orphanage. And now, the groundbreaking is taking place in the state of Rajasthan, in northwestern India.
I went to visit the priest in Westminster on a recent Sunday. At mass that morning, he delivered a soaring and poignant sermon about lepers and the things he saw as a young man in India. He stressed the importance of reaching out to those in the harshest of conditions. In typical fashion, his sermon brought rousing applause from the faithful.
It's hard to put into words the effect that this man of faith has on people. But it is real and profound. For all the wonderful doctors we had at Hoag Hospital tending to my mother almost two years ago, what we remember most was Sebastian's visit.
Seeing the two of them, my mom and Sebastian, at mass the other morning, reminded me of that frightening day in the intensive care unit. That is, it was frightening until Sebastian arrived. He made things better, just as he his doing for orphans in India.
He told me he is very pleased with how things are coming along and that soon he will make a return trip to oversee the orphanage's development. He is also very thankful for the donations and support he has received in Huntington Beach. And next month will bring another opportunity to help fund the cause.
On Nov. 4 at the Seacliff County Club in Huntington Beach, the Orphan Children of India (as the orphanage is named) will hold a golf tournament and evening gala fundraiser to benefit this critically important mission.
All of the money raised at this event will go toward taking the poor and orphaned children from the streets and putting them in a place where they will be cared for.
Last year's event was a rousing success, raising more than $100,000.
There are many ways to get involved with this organization whether you attend the fundraiser or not. Visit http://www.OrphanChildrenOfIndia.org for information on how to get involved or simply make a donation to the group or the live auction. Further information on the fundraising event can also be found here.
We have some great and generous leaders in our community. Recently, we have seen them in action. Take the Huntington Beach Kiwanis, who raised thousands of dollars for an ailing young girl named Cherise Heffner.
Sebastian is one of these leaders.
I can all but guarantee that if you can make the event, you will hear from one of the most giving and generous men you may ever be in the presence of. For me, that alone is worth the price of admission.
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 19 books, including the new "Baseball in Orange County," from Arcadia Publishing. You can chat with him on Twitter @chrisepting or follow his column at http://www.facebook.com/hbindependent.